Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sorry, What did you say ?

After all that studying nature v nurture ... after all those case studies ... after all the discussions on parenting, care-givers, theories, theorists, psychologists ... after all the debates on power and control in social situations; who takes the floor and how ... Just watch this ... and think again ... Sets you thinking doesn't it ... Gillian

Monday, 28 March 2011

Writing Tips for Fun ...

Check out Rebecca's short clip for fun writing tips ...

As we're taking advantage of her hard work, it would be rude not to promote her new book. So here it is; Palaces & Calluses.

To be honest, I haven't read it yet ... I haven't even bought it yet ... [will be adding it to the list for the weekend] but if you have already, let me know what you think ...


Short Stories ... ?

How to Write a Short Story that Sells
We hear it all the time, short stories and short story collections don't sell well – other than to magazines, probably mainly women’s magazines. Of course, we are to believe that e-readers is about to be the short story's new residence. Perfect for commuting or waiting for your dental appointment. If you are new to the story-writing game or are insistant on writing them, check out these pointers I compiled from various opinions on the web:

If writing for a magazine, read through half a dozen copies at least, to learn about the magazine’s reader type and absorb the style / tone.

Adhere to the word count request.
Use one viewpoint ~ use the most used in previous stories published by the magazine you are directing your work towards.
One storyline – sub-plot not necessary.
Few characters [4 at most].
A short time-scale Consistent style, mood, tone, pace. Concise dialogue, useful to the storyline.
No moral messages.
Keep descriptions brief, specific and vivid.
Try not to make the ending too contrived.

The more information you have about your target audience and the publication style, the better.

I’m off now to edit a short story with too many characters, a too-long time-scale and a hint of a moral message … oops.


Update ...

Well, my novel, working title: Consequences, oka my novel, working title: Touchstone, has been given a break. Verity is misbehaving, she is not yet a fully formed character and so, I'm finding it difficult to continue with her. I've been thinking about her a lot ~ of course and there's something missing. She's too nice. I'm not sure what she's even wearing now. Why would the successful entrepreneur, Edward, pick her over someone else? More research into the nature of an addictive character probably necessary too? Just in the nick of time, a pleasantly wonderfully lovely, delightful, helpful lady from Canada would like to read an edited version of my children's novel, The Mysteries of Ramper Pot. And so, that has taken priority for a month or so. I'm hoping that in the meantime, Verity will fully form herself and then I'll be able to get hold of Consequences and steam through it.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

It's ... A Tie ...

I've been checking out ideas for performance and came across Mark and his Tie. Not sure I'd be able to achieve his level of entertainement. Thanks for making me smile Mark.


Things are Hotting Up ...

A Letter Arrives : ~

`Congratulations ! You have been chosen as one of the 50 finalists in the Over 18's category of Poetry Rivals 2010! We received over 8,000 entries ...

The letter continues ...

`We are pleased to invite you to the Poetry Rivals 2010 Slam Final ...
to p e r f o r m y o u r p o e m i n f r o n t o f t h e j u d g e s ... `

My vision blurs. My stomach whizzes around like a washing machine on spin. My nerve ends feel like someone is pushing millions of the tiniest pins into my skin. I put the letter on one side, hoping it will go away, slip itself sleekly into the bin when I'm not looking.

I spent most of the following morning wishing my husband would mistakenly scoop up the letter, directions and confirmation form with his papers, perhaps lose them. I passed on subliminal messages to the kids, hoping they would unknowlingly use the back of the map for scrap paper or paper planes.

A week later, the letter continued to glare at me from my writing desk [as opposed to my work desk where I try to earn some money to allow me to spend much of the week practising writing ~ ha !].

The next day, I received a phone call. Would I be performing at the Poetry Slam? How many excuses could I think of not to? Actually, none. Not even a pathetic see-through one. I would be completely available on Saturday 2nd April 2011.

But Peterborough is a long way [although I could get there with a long drive or 3 trains part-funded by expenses offered]. Yet the finalist does receive a publishing contract with Bonacia Ltd. And there are 50 finalists in the `Over 18's category.`

Yes, I understand this is just an opportunity for showcase stuff ~ and yes, achieving status as `one of the fifty`, I still have to purchase my own copy of Slam Finalists for ``only £7.99`` But everytime I enter a poem into this type of publication, it gets accepted and noticeable as the amount of bookshelf space is absorbed. So, are there really 8,000 submissions? Or just 50? And why, if there are 8,000 for the same competition, do I keep on criticising my work, thinking it's not worthy of acclaim?

Meanwhile ... I'm just about to fill in the reply form. Shall I go? Or should I get on with editing my children's novel for the nice lady from a publishing company in Canada who is interested in reading the edited mss?


Friday, 18 March 2011

Want to Influence and Persuade?

Read Robert Cialdini's book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Kindle edition)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Did you know ... ?

The first typewriter patent was filed for in the 1700's but the physical unit not marketed until the 1870's.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Thinking about Publishing ? Think again ...

Trying to Find a Publisher ?

It’s no wonder writers self-publish. Creating that feisty query letter to market your product, constructing that agent-or-publisher-specific two page self-promotion [would that be single of double lined?], forming the exact length synopsis and selecting the correct number of chapters requested - make that suggested; correlating [without clips or staples] the package to include self-addressed envelope, and making the trip to the Post Office with the large extra-strength envelope via the local car park ticket dispenser – cheapest rate £2.30.

Having said all of that, I continue to go through the process. Unless of course, I can email – How easy is that? I find email rejections easier to swallow. A curt one-point-five lines of text informing me that ‘their’ client list is full, doesn’t seem to hurt quite as much as the envelope opening ceremony; the bold font on quality paper response I was preparing myself for.

Yes, I do spare more than a fleeting thought for the people on the receiving end of my precious package. I try to make their job as simple as possible by responding to their Specific Submission Guidelines exactly as per their Specific Submission Guidelines. And that’s why I’ve added award winning writer and poet, Andrew Oldham’s enlightening and entertaining discussion [permission granted - thank you Andrew (first name email terms already)] to my blog. I would have been more surprised if he’d said no, due to the nature of his discussion ~ from the publisher/agent’s pov.

Over to you Andrew,


I have just had my first poetry collection published, Ghosts of a Low Moon (Lapwing, Belfast 2010). The journey of getting it published started nearly three years ago. It took me some time to get a collection together, for over eight years I have been published in magazines, anthologies and online zines. I am not a prolific poet. My poetry output sits side by side with my fiction writing. I do not call myself a poet as I write around fifty poems a year; most never get out of my notebook because when I rewrite they do not get through my editorial process. That is my choice. I am a writer who writes poetry. I am not idle though. I am actively involved in the publishing world. I am a writer. I am a reader. I love books. I promote reading. I have been a publisher. I have been an editor. I have seen the grass on the other side of the fence. I have run my fair share of workshops across the UK and there is one question that always comes up. How do you get published?

I have answered this at festivals, events and in libraries across the UK. Fifteen years ago there was a straight-ish answer; submit your work to an editor and take your chances like everyone else. It is no longer that straight-ish. An explosion of multimedia platforms including the web means it has become a minefield. There are hardcopy publication rights, e-publication rights, region first rights and copyright. What is law in the UK may not be a law in the States or India. This makes getting published outside of the UK liberating, it widens your audience by a few hundred or a few thousand. The web though does not deal in hundreds and thousands, it deals in millions.

The web has no walls, no distribution problems, no lost books in transit and in a few cases, no qualms about breaking UK copyright laws. It does not care that an entire industry devoted to the world of poetry, short fiction and fiction needs these laws in place. The industry is not just publishers; it is promoters, printers, editors, writers, poets, designers and most importantly, readers. The web has liberated the reader and I applaud that. It has yet to liberate those who want to write poetry. We have an imbalance between those who write poetry and those who are willing to pay to read it.

There are many wannabe poets, I use this term for any poet who has never been published or who has never read a poetry collection. They often write secretly at work, on the bus, in a traffic jam, in their new bathroom, new kitchen and newly decorated study, they wait for the all empowering muse. They inevitably write about cats. They always attack the poem with a chainsaw, hammer or crowbar, wedging in the obvious rhyme, the tired metaphor, the bucket load of derivatives. Poetry is not alone in this, fiction gets it too, except poetry is always seen as more easy, less time, quicker to churn out because it rhymes. In my UK workshops, on UK discussions panels I have heard people declare thus proudly. Last year in a festival audience, a man stood up said this and then boasted that he could write a collection in one afternoon, in his shed (I don’t know what the relevance of the shed was and it still haunts me). He went on to tell five hundred people in the audience that poetry did not take much thinking about. He did not want a publisher because no one reads and instead he posted his magnum opus (his words) to his Facebook profile. His family loved his poetry, especially his cat (again this image haunts me and I have been tempted to phone the RSPCA about the abuse of cats with bad poetry). This event was cut through by a fire engine klaxon in the distance; a fire had taken hold in a boarded up old bookshop in town.

Why does poetry get this? What is the reason? Are these the times in which we will see actual reading become niche?

I grew up with people wondering why I read, it was a common question at bus stops, in class and one time, in a library. The answer is simple because I wanted to write. I did not know that then but Blake, Herbert and Hughes did me a favour, the act of reading widened my horizon.
It is sad that some people want to write but do not want to read. This lack of reading has two effects on publishing, it clogs up the editorial process, unwanted poetry, bad poetry, bad wannabe poets, send some fine poets, some fine publishers to a slow, strangling death. Then the same lack of reading translates into poor sales. Some voices blame the publisher, mud is slung, arguments rage, accusations of poor promotion flit back and forth in emails, letters and phone calls.

Here is the simple truth, the hidden fact that many publishers do not tell you, whatever the book cost to produce, promotion will cost three times more. This is often unpaid work, many publishers, promoters, poets and writers are happy to do this. Not because they are noble, not because they want to be famous but for the simple reason that they are part of an industry that reads, that writes, that reads. Reading matters. That’s it. If you don’t read, don’t plan to read, then leave, there is the door, take your manuscript with you. Publishers need readers. Poets need readers. Poets are readers. Publishers are readers. Save their time, save their money, save them from the crap your family likes. This industry is not your family.

Times change though and in my round of publishers, clutching my correctly formatted ms and enclosed sae, brief bio and publishing history, I discovered a hidden problem. Though many fine poets submit each year, only a few get published because editors have discovered a growing problem, the slush pile is now a mountain. Commitments to that were draining some editors dry. One editor had married his slush mountain so he could divorce her; with the short term view that at least fifty percent of it would go with her when she left.

A common problem amongst this journey was how so few submissions adhered to the publishers guidelines. How many came with no return address. One publisher told me he had received a collection which had no name, no title (to any of the poems), no contact, no bio but still received a phone call six months later demanding it back. This lack of attention to detail is costing publishers time and money. For some reason, some wannabe poets think publishers are rich or beneath them.

One publisher told me that in one year he had received a worrying amount of submissions with covering letters stating that the new poet would deign to let them publish their first collection. They were immediately rejected. Who want to work with anyone who deigns?
A common problem was the waiting list for publication, this ranged from three to a whopping seven years. Many publishers wondered why some poets thought submitting a first collection with no track record, no awards and no history in the industry was a good thing. This brings us back to the man at the festival who had indeed submitted one of his earlier collections to several publishers who rejected him for not having a history of publication in magazines, to which he stated, No one seriously reads magazines.

Poetry has won the Costa two years on the run, it is part of daily lives, music was born of poetry and poetry has been born of music. As a nation we do not read enough, television is not to blame, computer games are not to blame, sex is not to blame. The responsibility lies in all of us to pick up a book, walk to the library, go to a bookshop, ask a friend to recommend a book, to get out of our comfort zone.

I was lucky to get published. I do not take it for granted that this will make getting my second collection published easier. It just prepares me for the minefield that getting published has become. I sympathise with anyone serious about being published who reads, and I mean really reads and not as I heard from a creative writing student who professed to be a poet, I’m only buying this poetry collection because we have to; I mean who pays for poetry? All that white space is such a waste.

If you choose to not read then all there will be left is white space, no reading equals no writing, no publishing and no chance of publication. So, please for the sake of publishers, writers, poet and libraries put down your pen and read, widen your horizons a little bit more.
Andrew Oldham has been a columnist for The London Magazine. His fiction has featured in The Sunday Times and his first poetry collection, Ghosts of a Low Moon (Lapwing, Belfast 2010), is available at and the collection will be reviewed on the LWH website next week.

Andrew is an award-winning writer, and is doing a virtual book tour between February and May 2011. See his website for details of his virtual book tour

ANDREW OLDHAM will be headlining WORD SOUP in July with IAN PARKS, one of the Poetry Society New Poets in 1996, a WORD SOUP live literature night special not to be missed!
Word Soup – Thursday 28th July 2011 at The Continental, South Meadow Lane, Preston PR1 8JP.

Well, you can't really disagree with that ... Can you?

It just seems you have to be famous already - otherwise, no-one wants to take a financial risk. I can understand that. And that's why I nearly ordered a skip and emptied the contents of my study into it ... including desks, lap-top. And just when I was about to pick the phone up ... lo and behold, a simple email from a publisher ... send more chapters !!


Thursday, 10 March 2011

'That Letter Arrives ...'

Lo and Behold ... A letter through the letter box. It's not an bill. It's not junk mail. It's not even a speeding / parking / London zone ticket from one of my sons / daughter ! ... It's a letter from a PUBLISHER ! Yes, a PUBLISHER. Now I'm not getting all dizzy and carried away. I'm not hyper-ventilating, [yet]. I've not told anyone. I need to read that letter a few more times [must be a bit like winning the lottery and not believing it at first] Yes, it's just another ordinary day. Things to do. emails, letters, phone calls, decorating ... editing 'The Mysteries of Ramper Pot' ... Sorry? Should I repeat that?

So that's it. I scoured the internet [what a wonderful tool the internet is] and managed to locate a like-minded publisher. I'll be editing the 10 chapters as soon as and forwarding them to Canada for a once or twice over ... Fingers crossed ...

You don't mind if I get off early tonight do you ???


Literary Festivals in UK 2011 ...

I was about to compile a list of Literary Festivals in the UK and realised, the job had already been done for me. A heartfelt Thankyou to

There are now literary festivals throughout the year in the UK. The largest ones include:

•The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, at the end of March
•The Guardian Hay Festival, in late May
•Edinburgh International Book Festival, in August
•Cheltenham Festival of Literature, in mid October
In addition there are many festivals that concentrate on the work of a single writer, such as the Wordsworth Festival in January or the Dylan Thomas Festival in November.

There are also festivals celebrating a particular genre or type of writing, such as the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival or the Clerkenwell experimental writing festival (both in July).

Below is a selection of the leading literature festivals in the UK, together with links for further details (copy and paste into your browser).

We also list a number of other festivals that may be of interest for combining with a literary tour. These include The Chelsea Flower Show and The Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair. For further information or help with any arrangements, please contact us

Bath Literature Festival
A programme featuring over 100 different literary events from debates and lectures to readers' groups, workshops and films in venues throughout the city.

Oundle Festival of Literature
7th-21st March, 2009
2009 highlights include John Simpson; Sky News Adam Boulton and journalist and broadcaster Simon Hoggart examining The Blair years; Kate Summerscale, author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher; Patrick Gale, Paul Torday; Clive Aslet; and James Taylor on Darwin

King's Sutton Literary Festival
A weekend festival in this charming village close to Banbury, Oxfordshire

International Festival of Mountaineering Literature
Bretton Hall Campus, Wakefield

The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival
The Festival presents over 200 authors, covering all areas of writing, plus events for children.

Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry
Trinity College, Cambridge

Cambridge Wordfest
The Festival presents a wide variety of writers over three days in Cambridge towards the end of April each year.

Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival
The fourth Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival takes place between 25th April and 2nd May 2011. Working with The Week magazine as media partner, the festival programme includes author events, workshops, performance poetry and lively panel discussions.

The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature
The only Festival in the UK dedicated to writing about Asia, The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature celebrates the newest and best of writing across a broad spectrum of Asian countries in a series of talks, debates and discussions.
May 11 - 22 2009

The Charleston Festival
A literary festival at Charleston, country home of Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell

Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature
Fowey, Cornwall

Lincoln Book Festival

The Guardian Hay Festival
One of the largest literary festivals in the UK, in the ‘Book’ town of Hay-on-Wye

Word – University of Aberdeen Writers Festival

Swaledale Festival

Grassington Festival
A general arts and music festival with some literary events

Buxton Festival
A festival of opera, music and literature

Dartington Hall Festival - Ways With Words
A ten-day literary festival set in the medieval courtyard at Dartington Hall, Devon

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival
The Cedar Court Hotel, Harrogate
Presents many leading UK and international writers of crime fiction

John Clare FestivalThe John Clare School, Helpston nr Peterborough
The festival is a celebration of the life and works of John Clare

Stratford-on-Avon Poetry Festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival
Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh
Major festival of literature and the arts

Bristol Poetry Festival
Vibrant celebration of poetry

Graham Greene Festival

Chiswick Book Festival
In 2010 the festival is taking place the weekend of 17th - 19th September with authors including Terry Pratchett, Michael Wood, Andrew Motion and Val McDermid

Wigtown Festival
Scotland's national book town

Bournemouth Literary Festival
A world or words in Bournemouth

Henley Literary Festival
The 4th Henley Literary Festival takes place from September 29 to October 3 2010. Melvyn Bragg, Antonia Fraser and Craig Brown are among the 100 events being held throughout the town, which will also include Alexei Sayle, Max Hastings and Lionel Shriver

Cheltenham Festival of Literature
A long-established literary festival with upwards of 400 speakers

Burnham Market Book Festival
Takes place on 1-3 October this year (2010) and includes Simon Jenkins, Sara Wheeler, Nicci French,General Sir Richard Dannatt, Ben Macintyre and Jane Fearnley Whittingstall.

Wimbledon Book Festival
A festival in early October which offers a diverse range of readings and book events at a selection of venues in Wimbledon

Wirral Bookfest
11-17 October 2010 - 21 events run by Wirral Libraries in Merseyside including Carol Ann Duffy, Gervaise Phinn, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Ramsay Campbell, emerging fantasy and sci-fi authors, and writing and publishing workshops

Inverness Book Festival

Poole Literary Festival
A new festival with its first major programme in 2010. Takes place from 29th - 31st Oct. Writers appearing include poet laureate Carol Anne Duffy and a varied selection of Dorset writers including Paul Atterbury, Kit Berry, Sarah Challis, Daisy Goodwin and Jason Goodwin

Peak Literary Festival
Held annually in the spring and autumn (May and October/November) in the Peak District National Park

Aldeburgh International Poetry Festival

Dylan Thomas Festival
The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival
2010 will see the 19th Richmond literary festival. Running throughout November, the line up for 2010 features high-profile authors, TV personalities, journalists, poets, politicians, as well as some newer voices, at various venues throughout the borough

Cambridge Winter Wordfest
At the ADC Theatre in Cambridge

Southwold Literature Festival
Part of the Ways with Words series of literature festivals, held in the lovely seaside resort of Southwold, Suffolk

Enjoy, Gillian.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

As you probably know, World Book Day and Night has come and gone. 'A Millions Reasons to Read' was the slogan used to promote ... books. One million books were given out FREE to 20,000 givers who distributed or maybe still distributing the books. Well, there's nothing wrong with a free book, is there?

The concept sprang from The Book Industry Conference in 2009. Jaimie Byng of Canongate books is said to have started the idea which was later steered by a large committee including Random House, Penguin, Harper-Collins, Faber and Faber, Clays ... et al. So it's no surprise then, that giving out Free books might have meant cheap advertising. I'm not wanting to be sour about the promotion, clearly the book suppliers want to create awareness, especially in this techno-e-reader era but I found that the interest shown when giving out the books was quite amazing. The giving and receiving process somehow seemed to make people feel special. When I offered the FREE book to one lady, she asked, 'How much is it?' not believing something was actually for free. Some people seemed to mist over at the sight of a book. I could almost see their thoughts formulating ... a book? to read? Then a smile ... and once they'd accepted it, I could tell that reading one might be a pleasant experience.

World Book Day and Night encouraged a lot of interest, from large gathering for readings in Trafalgar Square, author readings and promotions in libraries to small reading groups; people getting together creating community spirit. And there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

I have 10 books left: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. If you would like a copy, just email me at and I will post it to you. [FREE!]

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is about an autistic boy who finds a neighbour's murdered dog in the garden and investigates the mystery. Viewing everyday events and emotions from the character's perspective, there is much to learn from Mark Haddon's novel. Humbling and enlightening, a delightful read.


Thursday, 3 March 2011

King Crow by Michael Stewart ...

So, later that night, when all in my household had eaten their supper and fallen into one of two categories ... dozing on the sofa or showering for an night out, I slipped out to the library - yet again. To tell you the truth, it was a different library to my earlier 'Author Visit' and I consider myself very lucky to have three libraries reasonably close [although I have to admit, I wouldn't like to walk to any of them].

I arrived early - something of a rarity, and finished a few emails in the car whilst waiting for he alloted time. I entered the library with three minutes to spare and typically for me, everyone had begun; the audience glued to the speaker, the speaker, presenting his work. Pink-cheeked apologies later, I slipped into the back row. The truth stared at me from the hand-out. 'Award Winning Author, Michael Stewart: 7.15p.m.' I was clearly fourteen minutes late.

Fortunately, Michael stopped, said 'Hello' and blended back into his story, making me feel totally at ease. With the same ease, he read, explained and discussed his novel, his characters, publication and personal background with an interest and warmth that was captivating in itself.

The novel? Oh yes, that sounds really interesting too. I haven't read it yet because I wanted to listen first, then read, for a change. So I've typed out the blurb for you and here it is :~
'Ashley is everything Cooper isn't, he's tough and good looking, with so much street cred he can divvy some up for Paul as well. When they get into trouble with a local gang, they steal a car and head for the Lakes - Ashley because he thinks he may have killed somebody and Cooper because he wants to seee ravens. Their fight is hectic and intense, and in the middle of it all one of them meets a girl and the other feels pushed out. The three of them find refuge for a time in Helvellyn, but things ar falling apart and soon their road trip makes national headlines ... for all wrong reasons.'

'Michael Stewart is a fascinating new voice, and King Crow is a fine debut novel. Part action thriller, part psychological drama, part birding manual, I've come across nothing quite like it. It's a fantastic example of modern fiction at its innovative best.'
Melvin Burgess

Go to: www.
Can't wait to read it.


If Only I Could Talk ...

If Only I Could TALK by Tony Lewis:

I've had a busy day, collecting 50 books for World Book Day/Night and giving them out to people. I had the opportunity to attend two author visits; afternoon - listening to famous author, Tony Lewis talk about his debut novel, If Only I Could Talk: A Canine Adventure and later, an award winning author, Michael Stewart [more on next blog - we don't want any fall-outs]

Tony Lewis, born in Cumbria, oh God I wish I'd listened, did he say born or lives ... ? I think he said born, so we'll go with that. The general gist is that he plans, writes and tours walkers in France for most of the year. He obviously loves the outdoors and ... dogs ~ hence the novel.

Lewis portrays the inimitable friendships between fellow dogs and their two-legged companions. We see things through a dog's eyes and feel the engrained effect the dog has on three separate families. Lewis's book explores the delicate and remarkable bond which is formed between an autisitic child and one special dog.

If Only I Could Talk comes with a warning direct from the author at the library reading: The first chapter is a tear-jerker. After that, a tale of Three Families ... Two Worlds ... One Dog and a happy ending, well almost.

'Emotional and touching ... a story told from the heart, with great love and compassion for animals ... They do talk ... it's just that we can't understand them.'
Sheila Belshaw, author of Fly with a Miracle.

'An amazing story of two brave dogs ... very funny as well as emotionally satisfying.' Gerry McCullough. N.Ireland.

Order online at or


Waiting for THAT Letter ...

So, I've finally spent the week-end plus, formulating that special query letter, editing the synopsis, checking the selected chapter[s] and updating my CV.

I did actually manage to forward the above information to an assortment of publishers and agents. And here comes the chicken and egg question ... Do you send a query letter to get an idea of selection probability ... or ... Do you completely and utterly butterly complete the project [ie novel], then send it to publishers / agents? I imagine recipients only want to see a finished product but sometimes, I feel it's a bit like fishing in the dark. You know there are fish in the water but they're hard to catch.

You've got to believe in your product. I agree with that. And going through the motion of approaching publishers and agents has been a worthwhile task, even if I don't catch someone's interest, it has made me more aware of the market, the vehicle; the suppliers. It's made me fine-tune the product I am trying to promote and share.

But why? I ask myself many times. Is my writing a hobby? It's certainly not a job or I might be getting paid for it. So, I say to myself, if it's a hobby, thats okay. I don't have to sell my product. But ... it's a bit like training for rugby or football and not getting to play on the pitch ... or practising for a choir and never joining in the performance. There needs to be an end, closure, ownership ... something ...

And yes, I've done enough talking the talk, perhaps now its time for walking the walk !

So, I won't wait by my letter box, meet the postman at the end of my garden, obsessively click on my inbox or check any missed calls, I'll use my time wisely whilst waiting patiently for all those publishers and agents to come calling ... I'll get a facial, go shopping, practise smiling for the cameras, prepare Q & A for interviews, prepare a talk for a library, chat session for groups of 6th formers, re-structure my creative writing workshop and in between all that, I'll finish those final chapters !


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Christmas Annual ... ?

Yes, well, the Christmas Annual ... If I was a bloke, I would prpbably be kicking imaginary stones about the floor / jangling change in my trouser pocket or even trying a pathetic out-of-tune whistle. Yes, I hear myself say, the Daughters-in-Distress Christmas Annual. The one I have'nt even put pen to paper for, I heard myself saying to no-one but me. Well, I hear myself repeating ~ to myself ~ I'd better get on with it.

So I did.

You've heard plenty of those interviews where musicians say something like, 'Oh yest THAT song, yeah, it took me half an hour when I was staying with friends in the Caribbean one Spring' ... well luckily for me, that's what happened last night [not that I was in the Caribbean, although very much would like to be]. I drew out a brief structure consisting of a page full of squares and considered this my story board. Wow. Such an achievement. And all my ideas just seemed to fall from a memory bank somewhere in my head, onto the page. Yes, my head ached, it still does but it felt like a feng shui overdose. Once the path was clear, the 'stuff' just came tumbling out. Those ideas must have been layering themselves for more than two years. Adapted activities from Creative Writing workshops I ran a few years ago, materialised themselves in a new format on the page; memories of picuture books I had researched ready for the process seemed to sketch themselves whilst I watched, even the flow chart flowed. What a relief.

Thank-you Fairy Godmother whoever you are.

Now ALL I need is an artist, illustrator, agent and publisher.

Maybe if I rub my pocket and count to three, one will appear out of thin air.


Day 2 on the Jill Hesketh Diet Plan ...

This might be what is referred to as 'Cross-over' ~ it started life on my Daughters in Distress blog and might sort-of belong here too ...

The Jill Hesketh Diet Plan:~
[all in over-exaggerated Geordie accent as in Big Brother presenters]

Day 2 ~ Breakfast: [for day 1, see]

2 x rounds of white bread, toasted with lashings of butter.

Large beaker of Nescafe with lots of milk.

Quarter packet Cadbury's nibbles (found them at last !)

Beaker of water - due to pure guilt.

Result: Headache and lethargy !

In my defence, I've been writing all week-end ~ staying up late, emailing and creating packages of examples for publishers and agents [the pressure of which is enough to cause a head-ache in itself] ~ and designing the Daughters-in-Distress Christmas Annual ~ yes that's correct ... although desigining the Daughters-in-Distress Christmas Annual should probably have been carried out before contacting Agents and Publishers ... hey ho ...